Childhood · Nostalgia · Parenting · Stories

In the Circus of Life, Let Us Remember Love

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The lights dim, and the first preview lights up the screen. Next to us, the speakers shake with war sounds, and in front of us, large, scary men clad in all black seem to be lunging our way.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see my daughter’s face. Zoey’s eyes are clouded with concern as she burrows her chin down into her coat. For a little girl who really doesn’t like movies, I wonder if bringing her to this show will leave her scarred for life.

* * *

After stumbling across The Greatest Showman soundtrack and listening to its catchy, joyful, life-affirming tunes, I knew I needed to see the movie. And when I put it on in the car one morning as I drove Zoey to school—and she knew most of the lyrics to This is Me by the time we arrived—I knew we needed to go see it.

Yet I was hesitant about the idea. Although she’s almost seven, Zoey and I have never been to a movie together. Even talk of going to one makes her panic a little, her response always the same, “But movies scare me. Do we really have to? Can’t I just watch something on my Kindle?” Her reaction to seeing movies has always surprised me, as I use to love going to them as a child.

But this time was different. When I asked if she’d like to go, she offered up a resounding ‘yes’.

* * *

Thankfully, after the previews end and the movie starts, Zoey perks up. She watches the whole thing, barely blinking, enthralled by the story. I’m sure it helps that there are exotic animals and choreographed dances and—of course—scenes filled with the music she has grown to know and love over the past few days, but even so, I’m still amazed at her entrancement.

As we leave the theater, Zoey twirls and leaps beside me, pretending she is the trapeze artist who gracefully and bravely flew through the air into her partner’s waiting arms.

She’s working on story comprehension in school, so I toss out the question that seems to be commonplace these days:

“So what was that about, Zoey?”

“Love,” she quickly responds.

Before I can agree, she continues her answer.

“I mean, the guy and that girl do get together, and Barnum goes back to his family at the end, but it’s not a love story,” she clarifies. “It’s more of a love lesson.”

I stop walking and turn toward Zoey, the early afternoon sun causing me to blink as I look her way.

“How so?” I ask, my curiosity getting the better of me. 

“Well,” Zoey replies. “I think it’s trying to remind us that if you surround yourself with everything you love, happiness will find you.”

It seems the movie has left no scars, just a perfect pearl of beautiful Zoey wisdom. I smile, breathing a sigh of relief, as I bend down and pull her in for a hug.

“Yes, Zoey,” I say. “You’re right. Just like love and happiness have found me, right here, wrapped up with you.”

* * *

Later that night, as I lay next to Zoey as she slips into sleep, I think about her take away from the movie and the lyrics to one of its main songs, a song that is in both the opening and closing scenes:

It’s everything you ever want
It’s everything you ever need
And it’s here right in front of you
This is where you wanna be

And there in the dark, listening to Zoey’s soft breath, feeling her damp hair splayed out on my chest, I can’t help but think of the heart-wrenching happiness I feel right here, right now. It’s always in moments like these—and like the one we experienced in the parking lot earlier—where everything else seems so much less important. All the money in the world? Who cares. A big house, a fancy car, or expensive toys? Totally not necessary. All the things considered luxuries? Don’t really need them.

It’s simple, really—a lesson so obvious that even a six-year-old could find it hidden within the bright lights and vibrant colors and hear it tucked away in the words of a few amazingly produced songs:

Be with the people you love.
Live a life you love.
Love who you are.
Do everything with love.

In this crazy circus of life,
if we just remember to simply choose love,
we will have everything important.

We will have everything we ever really need.

* * *

IMG_2580Just like P.T. Barnum did in The Greatest Showman, this sweet little girl of mine has a million dreams about living a life surrounded by all the things she loves. I’m equal parts proud and honored to introduce you to something Zoey is simply in love with, her own little corner of the internet, The Zoey Chronicles. She’s beyond excited about this little project of hers, which we created to help her learn how to type, become a writer, and most importantly, follow her little heart and live a life that is authentically hers. Check it out here, and while you’re at it, maybe leave a comment or like. She’ll probably love you forever for it, and perhaps along the way, she’ll teach you a lesson or two. I can practically guarantee it, as she’s done it here time and time again.


coreyCorey is a writer, graphic designer, and mom to her amazing daughter, Zoey. Here at The Nostalgia Diaries, her goal is to simplify, enhance, and engage people’s lives by helping them focus on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.


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At The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.

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Childhood · Nostalgia · Stories

Week 52: Back to the Heart of it All | Everyday Nostalgia

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My daughter, Zoey, rests her forehead against the Plexiglas pane of the plane window beside her. Outside, the air is frigid, causing each tiny breath she exhales to leave a piece of itself behind. As if by magic—and much to Zoey’s delight—small, white halos crystallize before her eyes, only to fade as quickly as they’ve appeared.

This simple wonder keeps her occupied, helping the minutes pass, until the engine of the plane rumbles, announcing that our departure will soon take place.

At the sound, Zoey turns to me, her eyes dancing.

“We’re almost there!” she announces in a voice loud enough that surely all the other passengers can hear.

I can’t help but smile.

“Really?” I ask, pointing to the unmoving ground outside the window. “How’s that possible? We haven’t even left yet!”

She gives me a look that suggests I have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about. Continue reading “Week 52: Back to the Heart of it All | Everyday Nostalgia”

Childhood · Nostalgia · Stories

Week 51: Just One More, Mommy | Everyday Nostalgia

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The street lamp outside my window is casting forth just enough light for me to make out the edges of my mother’s face. Her broad, high cheekbones curve down toward her chin, and her strong, straight nose slices across the darkness of my room.

Moments before, she closed our last book of the night and switched off my lamp, and now here she is, laying beside me, her fingers tracing shapes on my back, her quiet voice telling me a story.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Corey…

From my spot on the bed, in the dim light, I can faintly see the pictures hanging on the wall across from us. My eyes settle on the one with the small, wooden frame, the one that holds tiny words written in pastel, cross-stitched threads:

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ’til tomorrow,
For babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow,
So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep,
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Though I’m still little, I am old enough to know what the saying means: These moments won’t last so it’s best we hold them close. Continue reading “Week 51: Just One More, Mommy | Everyday Nostalgia”

Childhood · Nostalgia · Stories

Week 50: The Priceless Pursuit of Passion | Everyday Nostalgia

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It’s Sunday morning, and my family and I are saddled up to the counter at the Waffle House. I’m seven years old, watching our waitress in silent wonder. I love the spotlessness of her crisp, white outfit, amazed that there are no stains on it given the mess of food she’s surrounded by. With every order she takes, her smile doesn’t leave her face, and with every order she expertly serves, her gracefulness never seems to waver.

When she places our food in front of us—waffles, of course—she looks at me, her eyes twinkling.

“Y’all enjoy your food now, all right?”

I smile back at her and nod, thinking about how kind and pretty she is. I think about how happy she must make people, serving up filling, comforting food for their hungry bellies.

In that moment, I decide that when I grow up, I want to be just like her. Continue reading “Week 50: The Priceless Pursuit of Passion | Everyday Nostalgia”

Childhood · Nostalgia · Stories

Week 49: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall | Everyday Nostalgia

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The dim light of early day finds me standing in my bedroom, performing what has become an unfortunate morning ritual of mine.

I turn left, then right, and then twist around completely and glance over my shoulder. I feel myself frown as I let out an audible sigh.

I turn my body around one last time, determined to not give up just yet. I try straightening my back to make myself a little taller. I tuck my shirt into the front of my pants, and then, seconds later, I untuck it. I put my hands on my waist and angle myself sideways. I shift my weight from one hip and to the other. Finally, as a last resort, I squint, hoping that if I blur my vision, I’ll feel a little bit better about myself.

But I don’t.

Because staring back at me, in the mirror that hangs over my closet door, is a reflection I simply can’t stand: I see a girl who, just like me, looks completely defeated.

It appears neither of us like what we see. Continue reading “Week 49: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall | Everyday Nostalgia”